Fort Worth ISD provides no timeline to return pulled books to shelves
Fort Worth ISD has no tentative date for returning pulled books to its district libraries.
Following a new state law, the district pulled about 120 titles for review in August to determine whether they are developmentally appropriate for students. Books deemed as appropriate will return to library shelves as soon as possible, said Ross Teller, the district’s interim director of library media services.
The district has assigned three reviewers, all of whom are educators, to read each pulled book, Teller said. Reviewers are either librarians or have a master’s degree in library science.
“They’re reading those books as with all of their other duties, so you can imagine that that is taking some time,” he said, adding that he cannot provide an exact timeline for when the books will return to the libraries.
Books under review are not available to students, the district previously told the Fort Worth Report.
What materials are considered “sexually relevant” and “sexually explicit”?
- “Sexually relevant material” refers to a written description, photo, video or audio that describes or portrays sexual conduct.
- “Sexually explicit material” refers to a written description, image, video or audio that describes or portrays sexual conduct in a patently offensive way. Patently offensive is a term used in U.S. law regarding obscenity under the First Amendment.
- In both instances, the law excludes materials directly related to the required curriculum.
In September, U.S. District Judge Alan D. Albright blocked Texas’ book rating law, House Bill 900, from taking effect and described it as “unconstitutionally vague.”
The law bans “sexually explicit” books from Texas schools and requires written parental permission for students to access “sexually relevant” books.
“The state, in abdicating its responsibility to protect children, forces private individuals and corporations into compliance with an unconstitutional law that violates the First Amendment,” Albright wrote.
Teller noted that people have a misconception surrounding the district’s book review process.
“There’s been words like ‘banned’ and stuff going around — we haven’t banned anything,” he said. “What we’ve done is remove them for review for developmental appropriateness.“
The district also doesn’t pull books based on representation and commits to providing content and collections that represent all of its students, he said.
Fort Worth ISD parents can request restrictions on the books to which their child has access. District residents can also file a formal complaint if they do not feel that a book should be in a Fort Worth ISD library.
Dang Le is a reporting fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at email@example.com or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.